NDF-Ilocos denounces Balikatan war games and Laoag City mayor's servility to US imperialists

This article is available in Pilipino

The National Democratic Front (NDF)-Ilocos denounced the mayor of Laoag City, Michael Marcos Keon, Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s first cousin, for his open servility to his US imperialist master. Part of the Balikatan will be held in Ilocos Norte from May 6 to May 10. Some parts of Balikatan were also held here last year.

According to Ka Rosa Guidon, spokesperson of NDF-Ilocos, Mayor Keon’s statement that “there is nothing to worry about” in the war games is a blatant insult to the people of the city and the entire Ilocos Norte. This was Keon’s rejoinder to the opposition statements issued by various patriotic and democratic organizations that represent the sentiments of many people in various towns in Ilocos Norte.

This includes the condemnation by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Ilocos and Alliance Dagiti Mannalon ti Ilocos Norte (AMIN).

At least 2,000 Philippine and US military troops will set foot in Laoag City for the war games. The defense forces of Australia and France will also join the training. More than 10 foreign armies will observe.

The city mayor himself says live-fire exercises for two and a half hours will be conducted at the La Paz sand dunes in Barangay La Paz. He said these will be conducted in the morning for minimum disruption to residents. US and Philippine forces are also set to blow up and sink the decommissioned ship BRP Lake Caliraya in the ocean facing the province.

Even before the influx of American forces, the residents of Laoag City were already alarmed when huge military trucks and war equipment poured into the city in recent weeks. Ka Rosa says “the masses, even the officials of the barangay La Paz and also the city council, were shocked by their influx.” Ka Rosa further shared that the local officials were not notified of the conduct of the war games so they were unable to prepare and explain to the residents.

Residents of Laoag ask, why launch an exercise if you have nothing to prepare? “Conducting war games means there is a looming war in which you will fight. If you are preparing to defend against China’s attack, you will certainly engage in war once China attacks!” Mayor Keon blatantly disregarded the sentiments of his constituents.

“The masses in Ilocos Norte do not want Balikatan to be held in the province because they already experienced the danger it brings. In the previous live fire exercises, they went hungry because they were not allowed to go fishing and were forced to evacuate for several days,” Ka Rosa shares. She further explained, some fishermen couldn’t afford not to go fishing because they had to make money and were forced to risk being hit in the war games.

“They were extremely shaken by the shockwave of the detonated bombs, even far from ground zero. In Barangay Pasaleng, Pagudpud which is 25 kilometers away from Barangay Bobon, Burgos where a bomb was detonated [in 2023] people felt the ground moved similar to an earthquake. The people of Barangay San Joaquin, Sarrat, were also placed at risk when they were forced to participate in war games to carry American soldiers pretending to be casualties,” Ka Rosa adds.

As part of preparations for the big war games, General Charles A. Flynn, Commanding General of the US Army Pacific arrived on April 28 at the Laoag Airport to conduct an inspection. The 77th IB conducted a simulation in the sand dunes in Barangay La Paz on May 1.

Meanwhile, as recently as last week, a Laoag City police unit has been scrambling to conduct an “Oplan Bandillo” or information campaign related to Balikatan to cover up the great damage and disruption it will bring to local living and livelihoods.

AB: NDF-Ilocos denounces Balikatan war games and Laoag City mayor's servility to US imperialists